One, a verse novel about conjoined twins, by Sarah Crossan has been named Ireland’s Best Children’s Book.

Ms Crossan is the fourth Irish author to win the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year Award and the Children’s Choice Award.

The three other winners of both categories were Celine Kiernan for Into the Grey in 2012, Sheena Wilkinson for Grounded in 2013, and Oliver Jeffers for Once Upon an Alphabet in 2015.

Ms Crossan’s novel chronicles the story of Grace and Tippi, conjoined twins under constant medical and psychological care. The teenagers have to negotiate a world of prejudice, friendship, first love, and gossip, but they also face physical and mental challenges because they are joined at the waist.

Originally from Dublin, Ms Crossan, who writes for teens, gave up her job as an English teacher to become a full-time writer. She lives in Hertfordshire in England with her husband and their daughter.

Sarah Crossan
Sarah Crossan

The judges said Ms Crossan’s “signature blend” of lyricism and realism addressed complicated dynamics of family, identity, sisterhood, and difference.

“Told in verse and in the first person, this elegant, sensitive story will stimulate reflections and convers-ations about discrimination, diversity, difficult choices, and the bonds of love,” said the judges.

The winner of the Children’s Choice Award is picked by children who read and judge the nine shortlisted titles and then vote for their favourite.

Ms Crossan is also shortlisted for this year’s Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award (CliPPA). The winner of the only prize for children’s poetry in Britain will be announced next month.

Wexford artist Lauren O’Neill, who received the Honour Award for Illustration, impressed the judges with the way she met the challenge of bringing Gulliver, a beloved classic novel, to a new generation.

The judges liked the way Mary Webb’s retelling of the story interweaves with Ms O’Neill’s captivating and immersive illustrations.“The red ribbon for marking page position evokes a continuity of literary heritage while Webb and O’Neill skilfully capture the original tale’s humour and satire.

“An engaging read-aloud for junior classes and a valuable book for readers about the futility of war and the importance of respecting different perspectives.”

Louise O’Neill
Louise O’Neill

The Honour Award for Fiction went to Louise O’Neill, an Irish Examiner columnist who lives in Clonakilty, for Asking for It. The judges said reading the book was a harrowing, intense, thought-provoking experience.

“Examining issues of consent, victim-blaming, and rape culture, O’Neill’s scalding exploring of sexism, scapegoating, sexual assault, and the ethics of using and abusing social media offers immense crossover appeal for young adults and adults alike,” said the judges.

Father and daughter duo John and Fatti (Kathi) Burke from Dublin received the Judges’ Special Award and the Eilís Dillon Award for Irelandopedia — a compendium of maps, facts, and knowledge about Irish Life.

The CBI Book of the Year Awards, founded in 1990, are open to books written in English or Irish by authors and illustrators born or resident in Ireland.


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